“Raising awareness of colon cancer is of the utmost importance,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of OCO’s Cancer Services Program. “Colon cancer can be prevented and early detection is one of the keys. Regular screenings can find pre-cancerous polyps so they can be removed before they become cancerous. The risk of developing colon cancer may also be reduced by not smoking, eating healthy, drinking alcohol only in moderation and participating in regular physical activity.”
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is one of the most common cancers among New Yorkers. In New York State, colorectal cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined. Each year, almost 4,600 men and about 4,500 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 1,600 men and about 1,600 women in New York State die from this disease. It is estimated that one in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer sometime in their life.
Some people are at greater risk than others of developing colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50. Men and women may be at higher risk if a parent, sibling or child has had the disease. People with a history of colon polyps, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease are also more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
Early on, colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include blood in or on the stool, change in bowel habits, persistent pains, aches, or cramps in the stomach, and unexplained weight loss. While these symptoms may have other causes, it is important to talk to your physician if you experience any of these symptoms.
According to the Center for Disease Control colon cancer is the 2nd leading cancer killer in the United States, however it doesn’t need to be. Colon cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable,” said Handville. “Throughout the month of March OCO Cancer Services will be distributing free FIT kits, an in home screening that tests for hidden blood in the stool. Those interested in receiving a FIT kit should contact OCO Cancer Services at 315-592-0830.”
OCO’s Cancer Services Program provides free colorectal cancer screenings to uninsured men and women ages 50 to 64. Additionally the program provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms and pap/pelvic exams. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact the Cancer Services Program at 315-592-0830.